Freezing order granted on Limerick properties linked to major criminal gang
Judge in Cab case says there is no evidence of legitimate income to offset against lifestyle
The High Court has granted the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) a freezing order against two properties in Co Limerick. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
The High Court has granted the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) a freezing order against two Limerick properties linked to a major criminal gang.
Mr Justice Raymond Fullam granted the order in the case of Edward McCarthy (37) and Anthony Mullane.
Gardaí believe Mr McCarthy, who has 28 criminal convictions, established himself as one of the main suppliers of drugs in the mid-west region following the fall of the McCarthy-Dundon gang in Limerick.
In an affidavit, Supt James Browne, who has been stationed in Limerick for 36 years, said he believed Mr McCarthy was “among the leaders” of the McCarthy/Ryan gang, and previously the McCarthy/Dundon gang.
Supt Browne added that both gangs had been “involved in an ongoing feud” with the Keane/Collopy gang “which has resulted in the murder of over 17 people since 2000”.
His convictions include one for unlawful possession of drugs and engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour in 2009. Five years earlier, he was convicted of violent disorder and jailed for three years for assault causing harm.
Supt Browne said that in February 2003, Mr McCarthy was arrested for the murder of Kieran Keane. “He was never prosecuted but five of his close associates were convicted for the murder.”
Supt Browne said Mr McCarthy was “one of the biggest suppliers” of illegal drugs in Munster and a “significant supplier” in Dublin.
In 2013, the bureau seized assets from Mr McCarthy including an Audi Q7 car, more than €26,000 in cash and a gold Rolex watch valued at €7,850.
Friday’s judgment relates to properties at Creagh Avenue, Kileely, Co Limerick, and Cliona Park, Moyross, Co Limerick.
The properties will be frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1995-2005. The two men are prohibited from disposing of, diminishing in value, or otherwise dealing with the properties.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Fullam said he would grant the order as neither respondent could provide documents or records “evidencing their incomes through their respective businesses”.
“There is no evidence of legitimate income to offset against the high expenditure and lifestyle as afforded by the respondents,” said Mr Justice Fullam.
“When pressed by the applicants for details of his income during cross examination, Mr McCarthy refused to give details of his business dealings.”
In his affidavit in February 2015, the then head of the bureau, Chief Supt Eugene Corcoran outlined his arguments why the properties were acquired with the proceeds of crime.
He said Mr McCarthy “has a history of involvement in serious criminality” including “directing or organising trade in illegal drugs”, and that he has “generated substantial monies” from these activities.
Chief Supt Corcoran said Mr McCarthy and Mr Mullane were “associates” and that Mr McCarthy had not made any tax returns, which the bureau believed facilitated the accumulation of the monies.
This, he said, was “consistent with attempts to conceal or disguise the proceeds generated by criminal activity”. Furthermore, the pattern of acquisition was “consistent with money laundering”.
In relation to the property at Cliona Park, he said there was “considerable incentive” for Mr McCarthy to purchase the property as it is in “close proximity” to the residences of his associates, which would have afforded him and his family “a certain level of security”.
“This would have been of particular value to Mr McCarthy in 2003 when he was facing imprisonment,” said Chief Supt Corcoran.
Mr Mullane, he said, was used as an intermediary in the purchase at Cliona Park, which was “indicative” of Mr McCarthy’s “intention to distance himself from the property”.
In relation to the Creagh Avenue property, gardaí were unable to identify legitimate income as would have enabled the purchase to be made. Supt Browne said the property was located “within the stronghold” of the McCarthy/Ryan gang.
From investigations led by Supt Browne, gardaí were satisfied Mr McCarthy was the “beneficial owner” of the property and that Mr Mullane was “merely a front to disguise the true ownership”.
Part of the purchase of the property could be traced to a Bank of Ireland account held by Mr McCarthy. Cash lodgements were also made to various bank accounts associated with Mr Mullane around the same time he made cheque payments for the purchase.
In evidence to the court, Mr McCarthy claimed to have received funds through horse trading, wins in the bookmakers, and personal injury awards. This was rejected by Mr Justice Fullam.
Legal representation for the two men requested a stay on the order, which will be dealt with by the court on Wednesday.